Storm Before the Slam
Overnight, a tropical wave raises a wall of clouds to the east, flat as an anvil on top, bringing swirly 25-knot winds and a low, lead-gray ceiling. Our morning patrol of the permit flats is looking bleak, when Pops suddenly swings a wide shoreward arc, cuts the engine and pulls the pole from its chocks. In the lee of a little point, three tails wave in the air, black crescents that stand out against the silver chop like tuxedos in a biker bar. Even I can see them. I prick a fish on the first cast, but it's off in an instant. The permit regroup, nervously milling about. I change crab patterns. Two more shots and I'm connected. It's a small fish, normally abundant in the lagoon but practically a miracle today, and a few minutes later, I've got him by the tail, shiny as a hubcap with enormous obsidian eyes. I turn it loose, ready for more when, to my astonishment, we leave the only permit we've seen in days.